Jesus came with his disciples into the house.
Again the crowd gathered,
making it impossible for them even to eat.
When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him,for they said, “He is out of his mind.” (Mk 3:20-21)
Mark wrote the earliest Gospel. Thus, he often relates things that the other evangelists tried to clean up or smooth over. For example, he has James and John themselves asking for a place of honor and power. Matthew softens this by having the mother of James and John ask for the place of honor and power.
Today’s reading is stunningly stark. Jesus has been teaching, preaching, and healing. He is curing the sick and driving out the demons that occur when a people are oppressed and exploited. He has challenged the religious leaders by questioning the purity and debt codes. He has touched lepers and eaten gleaned grain on the Sabbath.
Jesus has done all this in a nation that is occupied by the Romans. He has challenged empire and the Jewish collaborators. He is on a collision course with crucifixion. Bishop Gumbleton reminds us not to challenge empire “if we don’t look good on wood.”
Jesus’ family fully understands how dangerous Jesus’ mission is. They are concerned, as they should have been, for his safety. Hence, today’s pericope—”He is out of his mind.”
Their fear does not deter Jesus. He reamins faithful to his mission of setting captives free, liberating the oppressed, giving sight to the blind, and proclaiming debt relief. He is growing in union with Abba God. He knows that he represents God’s faithfulness to the covenant.
Fast forward to 2010. Empire has run amok. We are waging wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Supreme Court has issued a ruling that locks the common folk out of the electoral process. Multinational greed—the market is king and queen. Consumerism is our god. Civility in political discourse has all but disappeared from the scene. Haitains are suffering immense misery from an earthquake and some among us are saying that they should have built earthquake proof houses. The president has reneged on his promises about Gitmo and people are arrested in protest at the White House. The President tries to curb the greed of bankers and world markets, based in part on ill gotten gain, head south losing over 5% in one week. Teabaggers, independents, Republicans and democrats are lost and angry.
We, as disciples of the Risen Jesus, are called to proclaims hope amid despair. We are called to challenge empire by proclaiming Gospel values from the rooftops. We are here to tell people that there is a better way. The new order ushered in by Jesus is our only hope for the long term.
Get ready though—there is a price. Our relatives and others will think that we are out of our minds. How dare we challenge the excesses of capitalism run amok? How dare we question exorbitant budgetary expenditures for “defense?” How dare we challenge greed and its relative consumerism? How dare we challenge multinational companies, insurance companies, pharmaceutical firms, the health care industry, the banking industry, and Wall Street brokers (They provide our comfortable life style)? How dare we challenge a government that is firmly in the grasp of big business that buys and sells elected officials like grist in the mill?
We must indeed be out of our minds to challenge the signs of God’s blessing and favor. We must be out of our minds to challenge the system that makes us comfortable. We must be out of our minds to try to apply Gospel principles—like feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, care for the sick—to a capitalistic system that is designed to create wealth—mammon—and the “security” that goes with it.
Like Jesus, we teach, preach, and heal. We bring a new world vision based on Kin-dom values. We proclaim justice. We seek peace. We understand our common humanity. Yes, we are out of our minds but we have in us the mind of Jesus. The person, power and presence of the Risen Jesus compels us to challenge all that is not aligned with Kin-dom values. We are to speak in season and out of season, when convenient and when inconvenient.